VENICE (CBSLA.com) — The wreckage of Harrison Ford’s vintage plane was moved Thursday from a Venice golf course to a nearby hanger for a joint FAA-NTSB investigation into the crash of the single-engine aircraft.
“Documenting the accident site before it’s moved or altered allows for the ability to go back and say ‘Oh we didn’t see that,’ or something new comes to light,” NTSB Air Safety Investigator Patrick Jones said.
The small open-air, World War II-era plane crash landed just before 2:30 p.m. Thursday on Penmar Golf Course near the Santa Monica Airport, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR had just taken off from the airport when it began experiencing engine trouble.
Ford radioed back to traffic control for an immediate return before one of the wings clipped a tree, and the plane went down.
Dr. Sanjay Khurana, a spine surgeon, was on the seventh hole of the golf course at the time of the crash. He and his group quickly responded to the wreckage and stabilized the action film star prior to the arrival of emergency responders.
Dr. Khurana said the 72-year-old avid pilot was slumped over, bleeding and moaning. He also said Ford had a very large scalp laceration but was able to move and speak.
“We wanted to get him out safely and with the fuel leaking out, I motioned to some of the other folks at the golf course to put dirt on the fuel so it wouldn’t combust,” he said. “I just wanted to get him out safely so that the situation wouldn’t erupt into a fire.”
Ford was hospitalized at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center where he was last listed in fair to moderate condition.
NTSB investigators say a preliminary report, which will examine the aircraft, its engine and records of the plane, will take two weeks to a month to release. The full final report was expected to take about a year.
Ford owns several aircraft and has been active with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. He is also heavily involved with the Experimental Aircraft Association. Known for piloting fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, he crashed a helicopter in the Santa Clarita area during a training flight in 1999.
The plane involved in Thursday’s crash debuted before America’s entry into World War II and was heavily used as a trainer aircraft by the Air Force. It was retired from service after the war but remains a favorite of vintage collectors like Ford.
The PT-22 Recruit had a reputation for being more demanding and less forgiving than most training aircraft, making it ideal for preparing young pilots for the rigors of combat. The Air Force says the plane can do a maximum of 125 mph with a range of about 200 miles. There are about 200 of the planes still in existence.
Investigators ask anyone who may have video of the crash, upload it on the NTSB website here.